There are a dozen or more television commercials warning patients about the complications that come with “Hernia Mesh” and the life-threatening side effects they posed to patients who have undergone hernia mesh surgery. Patients have sustained such a staggering number of injuries over the course a decade that the safety of hernia mesh devices as well surgical procedures used to place them has been heavily criticized and patients warned off undergoing the surgery whenever possible.
While some tv ads are indeed dramatic and pushed by less experienced lawyers to draw a profit from unsuspecting victims and should not be trusted, it should not negate the fact that these devices are highly dangerous and victims should do their best to seek the most accurate information possible. This article will provide the latter, the factual information those who sustained injuries due to hernia mesh must be aware of in the event they’ve become injured by the device or the surgical procedure used to place it.
We’ll answer the following questions within this writeup:
- Why are hernia mesh implants no longer used?
- Who is responsible for hernia mesh implant defects?
- What safety hazards does hernia mesh pose to patients?
- What can Class Action litigation do for those injured by hernia mesh?
Class Action lawsuits against the manufacturers of hernia mesh have now climbed to the thousands, and date all the way back to the early 2000s. These lawsuits were filed from a class of hernia mesh injured victims whose claims range from bodily injury due to a defective device to those on behalf of loved ones who died from what should’ve been a safe procedure to implant a medical grade device.
Why are hernia mesh implants no longer used?
The once widely popular implants posed a solution to the problem many patients faced when confronted with a medically diagnosed hernia that caused pain or difficult moving around. A hernia can be defined as follows, according to medical literature:
“[…]a condition in which part of an organ is displaced and protrudes through the wall of the cavity containing it (often involving the intestine at a weak point in the abdominal wall).”
What was once a painful medical problem was given a routinely performed fixed: hernia mesh implant. Hernia repairs that utilized mesh implants were frequently performed surgical procedures. When performed correctly these devices should have posed no harm to patients who opted to use them. But what, exactly, is a hernia mesh implant? We’ll begin with a brief explanation of the device.
According to consumersafety.org:
“[…]These medical devices, which can be made out of a number of materials, can help add support to the weakened or damaged tissue. For the most part, surgeons rely on hernia mesh to help reduce the high recurrence rate of hernias and also potentially reduce recovery time. It’s estimated that today more than 90% of groin hernia repairs use surgical mesh.”
Who is responsible for hernia mesh implant defects?
Hernia mesh implants were offered in a variety of materials and based on doctor preference, a decision was made which to use on each patient. Or that should have been the case. However, device manufacturers may have offered surgeons or their affiliated hospitals incentives to use one device over another. The actual materials used in hernia mesh were all different, but all claimed to be “the best” at what they were made to achieve for patients. These materials ranged from manufacturer Atrium’s C-QUR mesh and their direct competition’s Ethicon’s “Physiomesh”. These two companies were primarily responsible for the bulk of claims regarding defective mesh implants that caused complications and fatalities. These manufacturers were singled out in particular due to the fact they manufactured their implants using materials deemed historically unsafe for use in humans.
Well known to scientists to degrade drastically over time, the two largest companies’ mesh implants caused erosion a shortly after being surgically placed inside a patient. This is a medical emergency requiring immediate surgical intervention. Knowing this and doing nothing to quickly remedy the mistake, (create a safer product that would exceed FDA standards), and keep patients safe, the manufacturers became liable for not only Strict Product Liability, but for any claims of negligence and wrongful death that arose as a direct result of placing profit above patients.
What safety hazards does hernia mesh pose to patients?
The C-QUR mesh was promised to be “surgical grade” (fit to be placed in a human body indefinitely much like knee replacement parts). However, this mesh was made using a polymer called “polypropylene” which according to Consumer Safety is known to erode over a period of time that was never specified by manufacturers. Ethicon was aware of this but prioritized profit, leading to dozens of terrifying side effects that left patients hospitalized or dead.
As the implant material erodes in the body, a human’s healthy immune system attempts to quickly rid the body of it. When it cannot, health rapidly declines, and deadly symptoms set in. These symptoms greatly impede healing and cause further complications that would not have arisen if the implant was surgical grade as claimed.
The side effects named in the thousands of Class Action claims filed against mesh manufacturers included the following:
- Implant migration (rapid movement of the original placement from where it was intended to another position in the body due to lack of stability and degradation of the device)
- Bowel obstruction and bowel perforation; this symptom can lead to death within hours due to septic shock (blood poisoning) once the contents of the bowel spread to the abdomen.
- Organ perforation due to mesh migration
- Scar tissue (known as “adhesions”) on organs and around the eroded mesh implant placement site
Research over the last 20 or so years have shown that when a patient is diagnosed with a hernia, the first line approach is to place a surgical mesh implant to relieve the pain and stop any further complications, restoring quality of life. However, there is little proof that these devices were meant to remain inside the body for any extended period of time, but rather only until a permanent surgical fix could be made. This made Atrium and Ethicon’s claims of longterm use a lie at best, and not medically feasible at best.
What can Class Action litigation do for those injured by hernia mesh?
Because many hernia mesh lawsuits provide clear cut allegations of medical negligence and strict product liability, federal judges were given enough evidence to conclude that Atrium and Ethicon were aware of the defects in their medical devices but chose not to take them off the market. Due to this, Class Action proceedings were allowed to proceed. Furthermore, due to factual evidence that the manufacturers failed to maintain proper safety protocol in the production of their products, leaving the door open for Class members to receive not only compensation resulting from a Strict Product Liability claim, but to be awarded damages on behalf of lost loved ones in the case of wrongful death.
Litigation is still pending on these Class Action claims against hernia mesh manufacturers Ethicon and Atrium, which means victims and their loved ones still have a limited window to retain counsel if they were injured or lost a loved one as a result of these defective implants. Legal proceedings on this matter are moving quickly after years long back-and-forth, though, so victims must retain board certified legal counsel before the clock runs out and they lose their right to seek the justice they deserve.
The importance of a Board Certified Class Action lawyer
In the case of a Class Action lawsuit, it’s important to have legal representation that’s aware of the Statute of Limitations and can successfully get their client into the class and file a claim before it’s too late. Those who have been injured or have died from hernia mesh complications deserve to be compensated to the fullest and should act on their right to justice as quickly as possible.